Central Park


The park board has announced the 30 artists chosen to participate in the artist-in-residence program at seven renovated field houses.

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On Monday morning, Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth called me about the announcement and to say she was delighted would be an understatement. "For me, this will be one of the biggest legacies I personally took charge of," said Blyth. "I've been working with staff on this and now that it's ready to launch I'm over the moon excited."

Blyth got the ball rolling on the project months ago, which saw some of the city's most dilapidated field houses renovated to become artist studios. In some cases, the field houses are being shared with sports leagues, many of which were using the aging structures to store equipment.

Because more than 50 qualified artists and arts groups applied for use of a field house, the park board is providing additional locations. Field house studios will open in Elm, Falaise, Hadden, Strathcona, Slocan and Memorial South parks, as well as at the Burrard Marina. The studio spaces are being provided in exchange for community arts-based projects including workshops, neighbourhood celebrations and concerts in the parks between October of this year and January 2015.

"It's a very diverse group and that will be the same for the programs offered," said Blyth. "It's great. These field houses were once closed and now they're open to the public, so I'm really excited."

But I heard from a reader who isn't thrilled about the decision to turn Burrard Marina into an artist studio.

Zenon Samila emailed me saying while he has nothing against artists using field houses as studios, the Burrard Bridge Civic Marina Users Group is upset because the park board was so quick to renovate the field house for artists while ignoring deteriorating docks that are sinking and an unstable and "dangerous" 1963 electrical system that can't provide the necessary electrical current for boaters. He said there's no emergency fire plan, no environmental hazard plan, no lounge or shower facilities and that the dingy floats are sinking.

"The two big issues are lack of consultation with tenants as to use of the marina facilities and the absence of a capital plan to put money back into maintenance and improvement of the marina," wrote Samila. "The marina has made a profit for the park board every year since its inception in 1963. It now totals millions of dollars. The profits generated by the marina each year have not been put back into the marina but have been used to subsidize money-losing programs such as golf courses."

Meanwhile, I was told I couldn't have the list of the artists' names until Tuesday morning, but the Vancouver Sun was supplied that information early enough to take photographs Monday, so I guess that embargo only applied to certain media.


A couple of weeks ago I wrote that the Riley Park/Hillcrest Community Association has applied to the park board to replace Vision Vancouver park board vice-chair Aaron Jasper as its liaison, claiming he appears a tad too busy to do the job properly.

At the time, Jasper told me he has been working with members of that group for years, which I took to mean he had been their liaison for years. But that's not the case. Jasper has only been the park board's liaison to Riley Park/ Hillcrest since being re-elected last November.

sthomas@vancourier.com Twitter: @sthomas10

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